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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saddleback Forum

I’m curious what other people thought about the Rick Warren forum last week. I haven’t been too excited about John McCain, but his answers to these questions were really encouraging. Although I don't agree with all of his positions, he knows where he stands. He answered the questions directly and conclusively.

Obama, on the other hand, seemed to me to waffle throughout, trying to answer in such a way as to include the greatest number of people possible. How can you answer moral questions when for you there are no moral absolutes? All of his answers were “relative”; in fact, he even used that word himself. How can we be confident in a president who has no absolute moral basis for any of the decisions he makes?

Take, for example, the question of abortion. Warren asked both candidates at what point a baby should be given the protection of human rights. McCain’s answer was simple: “At conception.” Obama, however, actually said that question was above his pay grade. Then why on earth is he running for President? What more fundamental question could there be? And if you’re really not sure when life or human rights begin, why err on the side of death? He said a lot about wanting to work with as many people as possible, and about how women don’t come to these decisions lightly. By that logic, if I don’t lightly come to the decision to murder someone, because I believe it’s in my best interest, does that make it okay?

Or what about when Warren asked the candidates to define “rich”. I thought this was a great question. Obama has talked so much about “taxing the rich”, it leaves one to ask who, exactly, is rich. Obama did put a number to it, those making above $250,000, but then admitted that it’s completely relative, dependent on factors such as what region of the country you live in. The problem is, the tax code won’t be relative. It won’t look at what region of the country you live in, for example. It just doesn’t seem fair to tax the rich, when it’s virtually impossible to define “rich”. To most people, rich probably means anyone making one dollar more than they themselves make. Where do you draw the line?

I wasn’t able to see the whole broadcast, so I’d be curious to hear people’s reactions to some of the other questions. And I’m also curious about something else—for those of you who hold to a worldview of moral relativism and have nothing absolute on which to base your decisions and values, how do you go about deciding what you believe about any given issue? Do you use your own reason? Do you try to do what’s best for the greatest number? (And if so, how do you decide which greatest number to be in favor of when it comes to issues like abortion—is it the women or the unborn children?) Anyways, what did you think about the forum and where the candidates stand on these issues?


Anonymous said...

I will say as someone who lives and works "inside the beltway" this was taken as kind of strange event for presidential candidates. As for me the jury is still out, but if it was definitely a smart move by both camps to participate. I doubt though this event proved to change to many peoples minds. The only thing most voters are caring about right now are the VP candidates. Campaigns are not about the issues, they are about the questions.

That is a good question posed to the relativist. However, the truth is we live in a place where the majority often makes the decision. (Thankfully though there is so much procedural and bureaucratical doo-doo that real decisions hardly ever get made.) Ultimately what you have to show such a person is that their belief or opinion does not support itself. As Peter Berger said, "Relativity, relativizes itself," But that is another can of worms.

Great post (I miss not seeing more). I look forward to seeing the comments.

portorikan said...

I thought it was a great forum and would love to see more of this. Straight questions attempting to get straight answers. Makes for a good, "well here's what you said when you were asked this."

I started getting frustrated with Obama's responses (they didn't seem to be answers really) and it just came across to me as an Obama FAIL. I thought I had missed McCain so I actually didn't catch his part of the forum sadly. Hopefully, something like this can be done again.

"... And I’m also curious about something else—for those of you who hold to a worldview of moral relativism and have nothing absolute on which to base your decisions and values, how do you go about deciding what you believe about any given issue?"

Something about the way way you phrased that question, I don't know that you'll get many responses from the people you're trying to get responses from.

Nathan Talbot said...

It was a good forum. The questions were good questions, some tough, some easy, but all fair questions to be asked of a potential POTUS.

I completely agree with your assessment. Obama did not answer the questions. He would talk in circles. He would mull and move and pontificate. His supporters call it being nuanced, thoughtful and engaging. I call it waffling, deceitful, and evasive.

Obama's problem is he has no moral conviction. He is starting to be exposed for what he truly is, a highly motivated politician who will do and say whatever he needs to to gain power. I realize this is part of the political game, but he is taking it to a whole other level. From his, "I will won't wear the lapel pin, I will wear the lapel pin" to his, "I won't quit my church to I will quit my church" to his, "I was for infanticide, to I was not for infanticide"(see Ill legislation for the discarding of babies born alive after failed attempted late term abortions).

The list goes on and on with him of switches changes and political moves depending on the situation and the crowd he is speaking to.

There is a difference in having a long established political career/voting record and changing a position after time and reflection and switching with the political winds after only months, weeks or even sometimes days in Obama's case. I think this is starting to show. He has been elevated by the press and the liberal elite as a savior, a healer of the world, and "gift from God" (Nancey Pelosi). He himself has, I believe, been intoxicated by this rhetoric and his thirst for power. In the end it will be his undoing.

John McCain on the other hand was also "engaging" and personable something he has not always been the most adept at. However, he answered the questions directly and succinctly. McCain scored big points in this forum because he is starting to solidify his base. He will draw moderates because of his political history, but he needs to bring the base out, and this forum certainly helped him in that regard. His VP choice should likely do the same as his people are pushing to a very conservative choice rather than the moderate choice idea they floated last week.

One huge difference that I saw and can't imagine others didn't see is the amazing difference in the lives and experience of these two men. John McCain was able to draw on some incredibly moving life experiences to illustrate his answers. His time in the POW camp. His answer of the toughest decision he made being staying in the prison camp when he had a chance to go home because they had a code of conduct to have men who had been there the longest go home was incredibly moving. His story on adopting a child when Rick asked about the epidemic of orphans in the world was real and showed he is more than a talker. There was a stark contrast between the life and service of these two men, and McCain has the experience and the moral absolutes that should be neccessary for any POTUS.

Quickly, on Obama's answer to the abortion question. If it is "above his paygrade" then he should withdraw his candidacy for the highest job in the land.

He made statements that he has always been against the war. Well he didn't have a vote on the war, so it is pretty easy for him to say that.

Lastly, when asked about supreme court judges he said he would not have appointed Clarence Thomas because he lacked experience and wasn't qualified for the job, not only is that wrong, but one word for Mr. Obama on that...MIRROR.

John Pinkston said...

UH, UH, Obama, UH, reflected a statement sometimes used in Texas. "Big hat, No cattle".

He was full of words, but no answers/opinions. It was frustrating to listen to another politician who wouldn't answer the questions.

Kelley said...

@John Pinkston "Big hat, No cattle."

John, you are hysterical... funniest thing I've heard all day.